Charles Richter: The Life of a SeismologistBy: Juliad439


First Building Blocks
Charles Richter was born on April 26, 1900 in , Ohio. At the age of 18, Richter attended the University of Southern California. He later attended Stanford which he graduated from in 1920. Afterwards he attended the California Institute of Technology where he got his Ph.D. in 1928. This is also where he met his wife, Lillian Brand, who he met while working on his Ph.D. and married her in 1928. While working at the institute Richter worked closely with a well-known scientist, Robert Millikan, and soon proved an excellent student. In 1927, the Carnegie Foundation, one of America’s greatest scientific institutes, opened a Seismological Laboratory. Seismological means to shake and is the scientific study of earthquakes. Millikan was asked to choose someone to help in the lab. He chose Richter because he believed that he would change the course of Seismology.

The earth’s crust is made of many Tectonic Plates. Most people think that there are only 7 plates, each one being a continent, but really each continent is made of many plates. These plates are always JRDearthquakediagram.JPG. When two plates collide and or get caught on each other it creates friction .The place that
the plates come together it is called the fault. When the plates separate or move away from each other they release rapid amounts of energy starting at the hypocenter. This is the first place that the energy is released. The energy is released in shock waves or seismic waves creating the shake and movement we feel above ground. These waves travel out and can be felt by people thousands of kilometers away from the epicenter (the first place the grounds surface moves).

Measuring Earthquakes
The machine used to measure the intensity of an earthquake is called a seismograph. It is made up of a ball attached to a spring and weight. These items are attached to a writing tool. When the ground shakes the spring moves, allowing the pen to move and record the data in lines on the sheet of paper below. The greater the difference between the lines recorded on the paper, the larger the earthquake. The problem with this was that each seismagraph was diffrent and recorded
diffrent imformation. That’s why Richter created the Richter scale in 1935. The scale is a set of numbers 1-10. Each time the numberincreases by one, the intensity of the earthquake increases by ten. When you read the seismograph the height of line shows you the amount of intensity. This way no matter seismograph you have results can be compared equally.

Late life and achievements
Richter died on September 30, 1985 in Pasadena, California. He was a great man that changed the way we look at earthquakes. He allowed us to have a common system to measure earthquakes and should definitely be qualified as an amazing scientist. It is also important to remember that he did not make the seismograph. A fun fact is that Richter actually wanted to be a poet. He wrote many poems and short stories though none were ever published. His contribution to science has been a great deal of help to seismologists all over the world for almost 80 years. With his help who knows what we’ll discover next?


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[Image.] September 20, 2013

[Image.] September 20, 2013

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